Adventure seekers and photographers are preparing to flock to Yosemite National Park, trekking through the mounds of snow to see a natural phenomenon that is only visible during a few glorious weeks out of the year.
Horsetail Fall is typically not that unique in Yosemite, where waterfalls are vast and beautiful. It’s a somewhat low-flow waterfall that flows about 1,000 feet down off the eastern edge of El Capitan to the ground. But when the water flows are strong and the lighting is right, this waterfall lights up and appears to be on fire. This phenomenon typically appears for about two weeks near the end of February and can cause quite the tourist attraction for people looking for a rare view.
In 2021, there were actually two different times the firefall was seen in the park. The first was during its typical time in February. The second was a rare late-October viewing that was a complete surprise to visitors. The firefall is always possible in October due to the angle of the sunlight, but almost never occurs due to lack of water. Due to the Category 5 atmospheric river in October, the rare natural phenomenon occurred.
It remains to be seen exactly when the natural phenomenon will occur in February 2022 and how long it will last, but the hype is beginning to build in NorCal. The event in 2021 was one for the ages. Typically, the event draws thousands of people to the park, no matter the weather. We will continue to publish updates on the natural phenomenon when the dates become more clear. With heavy precipitation in the region in December, the waterfall is currently flowing strong.
It’s still unclear what traffic and Covid restrictions will be in place during the event this year. Popularity of the event has recently drawn large crowds to the area, forcing park officials to put in place strict traffic guidelines and permits to prevent overcrowding. Pair with that the ongoing Covid pandemic and it may be difficult to see the natural phenomenon this year.
To see Horsetail Fall, park at the El Capitan picnic area or in turnouts just east of the picnic area. You can see the waterfall from the road. Here are our favorite videos/photos of the phenomenon at Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls from the past few years: